KiwiCo Review ~ Tinker Crate and Eureka Crate for Older Kids

KiwiCo Review ~ Tinker Crate and Eureka Crate for Older Kids

Updated:

Are Kiwi Crates worth the money? For our family, yes. Here’s our KiwiCo review.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and I didn’t have a great gift idea for my 12 and 14 year old sons. I was on the email list for KiwiCo and was getting their holiday specials.

I enjoyed reading their emails from time-to-time. They offered fun and doable science and art activities. My kids and I did some over the years. Others I saved in my endless “to do someday with my kids” list, wherever that is.

Years prior, I saw a friend posting about her kids’ Tinker Crate and another kit on Facebook. I asked her about it, and she was really happy with them. Her kids loved them. Their grandparents bought the subscription for them each year.

Fast forward almost two years later, and I decided to look at what these Kiwi kit crates were all about.

Questions about KiwiCo

My questions and concerns before trying Kiwi crates were:

KiwiCo cost:
  • Will shipping make it cost prohibitive?
  • Are the kits worth the money?
Questions about KiwiCo:
  • Would my kids — who were definitely aging out of toys — want to do this?
  • Will the kits be too easy?
  • Would this be one more thing to pile up in the closet, untouched?
  • STEM kits are popular; what sets Kiwi crates apart?

Basically, I wanted to know: 

Would these crates be another thing I have to nag my kids to do?

Like many parents, I know I’m always looking for ways to engage them and to get them away from electronic devices.

I also know I’ve bought my fair share of crafts, science kits, and other sets and projects thinking we would do them but we never did. Or we finally did them but it was a chore to do — not something to look forward to but something to cross off my mental list.

All of this would just add to my overall guilt about wasting money and the pressure to offer my kids enriching experiences.

Kiwi crates as gifts

But in sort of a feeling desperate state — first world problems of not knowing what to give my kids for a gift — I opened up one of Kiwi Co’s holiday sale emails, and looked at the various kits.

I learned a lot by finally going to their website. I didn’t realize this subscription service was for all ages. Also, I didn’t know they categorized the kits by interest.

For wee ones this would be Discovery and Exploration and Playing and Learning. For ages 5 and up, there is Art, Science, Design, Technology, Art, Geography, Engineering, and Math.

You may have heard of STEM-based learning or STEAM-based learning. This stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, A for Art, and Mathematics. 

After receiving several crates now, we learned that Kiwi crates combine many of these STEM/STEAM disciplines in their kits. 

I really liked they were broken down into such specific age ranges. Even better, I saw there are kits especially for tweens and teens.

Kiwi Crate vs LEGO

When I was on the KiwiCo site, I realized this was the first year we didn’t buy Lego sets for my kids.

I love LEGO bricks and sets and so do my kids; they’ve served us well.

However, to get a challenging kit for them now that they’re older, I need to spend hundreds of dollars. Then the model will have to sit out somewhere — collecting dust — and we just don’t have room for it.

My kids love doing LEGO sets but I just can’t justify the expense for something that will take them several hours (at best) and then it’s done. 

These Kiwi crates are fulfilling the same function as the big LEGO sets for us. They give my (older) kids:

  • Something to build and construct
  • Opportunity to follow directions
  • Learning experiences
  • Something fun to do that isn’t electronics

STEM-based learning

My kids are really into STEM. They are in STEM clubs at school, and my older child takes honors science in middle school.

I was happy thinking I could buy the Kiwi Crates for my kids and they would enjoy putting them together. What was also appealing is that everything would be in the kit. As much as it’s great to browse Pinterest for STEM and other creative ideas, it takes so much time to gather the supplies. 

The appeal of the Kiwi subscription is that everything would be there in one box.

I’ll admit there was a big part of me that worried they wouldn’t enjoy them. I thought they would be curious and have the thrill of unboxing the item but then might lose interest.

Still, I didn’t have a gift idea, so I explored the website further. 

One of my children asked for an electronic pencil sharpener — he’d talked about it for months. I saw a picture on the KiwiCo site with a child putting together a pencil sharpener! I thought that was really cool that they offered even practical kits as well. 

Ordering the Kiwi Crate

I ordered the Tinker Crate for my 12 year old and the Eureka Crate for my 14 year old.

I didn’t want them both to have the same kit. Being my older child is capable and good at following directions — and goodness knows they’ve both been doing LEGO sets for the majority of their lives — I opted for the oldest-age kit which is the Eureka Crate.

They run specials often, and I was happy with the deal and price I was able to get. Sometimes there are special codes, etc.

We received the kits in three days, plenty of time for wrapping and to put under the tree. 

Getting the kits

What I liked:

First off, we ordered are kits to be sent to the same address. Both of them fit in a larger box. This box is decorated really nicely. I also appreciated it was the correct size — the perfect fit, really — so that it didn’t waste.

KiwiCo crate boxes
Eureka Crate and Tinker Crate with shipping box

(As an example, a year prior, I ordered three Think Fun coding games from Target online. They sent these three small game boxes to us in two huge boxes — huge as in 20+ of the games could have fit in one box. It was a huge waste of cardboard and of the plastic packaging.)

So, the eco-friendliness shipping box aside, the kits themselves come in fantastic boxes.

What I love about them is they are made with sturdy cardboard. They are perfect for then storing the kits if you want. (If the project fits.) They stack nicely in the closet.

Most toys that my kids used to play with didn’t come with boxes. This meant it was difficult to store. I am a huge fan of boxes!

Each box had a label which said what the kit was. Imagine my surprise when my son’s kit was an electronic pencil sharpener! My younger son’s kit said it was a Paint Spinner. He had one years earlier which he enjoyed, so both seemed like activities my kids would enjoy building and putting together.

What I didn’t like:

One thing though is that even though they asked for both of our kids’ names for them to label the individual crate, on the shipping box, only one child’s name is on it.

So if you order more than one set to the same address, you will want to not wrap the shipping box and present it as a gift. However, because only one box came, I opened it up and saw both of the sets were in that box.

Also, think about if your kids will care whose name is on the shipping box. Mine don’t care.

Giving Kiwi Crate as a gift

Because they were each in their own nice box, I was able to wrap these up easily and put them under the tree.

When they unwrapped them on Christmas Day, they were interested and curious. Again, it’s difficult to surprise older kids, especially tweens and teens. For gifts, they usually get board games, t-shirts, some books, and yes, video games.

We love finding STEM activities for them.

They both said they wanted to do their kits over winter break. 

I knew they would eventually do them and would want to do them but the fact they came up with the idea on their own, instead of wanting to play a video game or watching Youtube, was surprising.

I purchased a 3-month subscription.

Doing the kits

Both kids enjoyed doing their kits. They took about an hour. The directions were detailed but in an easy-to-follow way, not complicated and cluttered. 

What I like is that it teaches kids patience and to follow directions. They learn to take their time and find the pieces they need — just like they did when building their LEGO sets.

We ordered the 3-month subscription and have renewed for another three months. So far, we have enjoyed the subscription for four months. We’ve received four Tinker Crates and four Eureka Crates. This is what we like about them.

KiwiCo Review

Easy directions

Colorful and includes pictures of the pieces they need. These Design Booklets feature what you need to know plus additional information.

Kiwi crate directions
Spin Art Machine directions
KiwiCo directions easy to follow
Close up of first step – easy to follow

As an example, in the Electronic Pencil Sharpener kit, there is more information about the limit switch and about pencil lead.

KiwiCo Tinker Crate
Colorful directions

Educational

Just like any well-made game or activity, these kits teach a lot. My kids are learning about mechanics, engineering, math, physics, and more. It’s educational to build the project and then fun to use it or play with it.

Kids build and refine fine motor skills as well. 

We don’t homeschool, but I could see how it would be appropriate to use to supplement the school day and many curriculums. There are also extended learning opportunities for further enrichment. (We didn’t pay extra for this; it was included in the crate’s cost.) In addition to the directions for the one project, there are also other projects you can do.

These kits cover several disciplines — engineering, art, math, science, technology as well as geography for some kits.

KiwiCo kit
A second booklet teaches related science concepts. It includes simple examples and projects to expand on the skills.

Children learn to follow directions; to trust the process and learn patience; to sort supplies. Again, all the while they are learning, building, constructing, and having fun.

Good variety of projects

The kits are interesting and haven’t been similar. Sometimes the projects have been more fun to build and sometimes they’ve been more fun to play with. Both are a win!

In the four months we have been receiving these crates, these are the sets they’ve received:

Eureka Crate:
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Ukulele
  • Headphones
  • Lock Box
Tinker Crate:
  • Spin Art
  • Color-Changing LED Crystal
  • Arcade Catapult
  • Hydraulic Claw

You also have the option to go to their website and purchase specific kits. As an example, even if you order the Kiwi Crate, you can buy a kit from the Doodle Crate. 

Great for older kids

The kits have been detailed enough to hold older children’s interest. They are great kits for tweens and teens when not many “toys” and “craft kits” excite them.

These STEM kits have kept my kids interested and engaged in the process. They sit down and work until they have completed the kit. It’s something that’s “doable” and not something they view as a chore to do.

What’s also great is they have choices for older kids. Again, as children age, there are less options for them.

KiwiCo has these subscriptions for tweens and teens:

Atlas Crate is up to 11 year olds with a focus on geography and cultures.

Doodle Crate is 9 – 16 year olds with a focus on design and art. More info here.

Tinker Crate is recommended for 9 – 16 year olds and focuses on engineering and science.

Eureka Crate is for 14+ and focuses on engineering and design.

Kids will enjoy constructing and building something they can play with and use.

KiwiCo pencil sharpener great for older kids teens
Building the pencil sharpener

There’s usually a sale

I like feeling like I “got a good deal” and didn’t pay full price. They offer discounts regularly.

Spend time together

We often play games as a means of connecting in our family. Sitting with my kids when they do their Kiwi Co projects — even if I don’t help them at all — is a nice way to spend time together.

Kids look forward to their kits

We ordered the 3-month subscription for the gift. I told my kids they had to work on and complete the kit before they open the next month’s shipment. And if they didn’t have their kits done before the next month, we wouldn’t renew it for another three months.

Practical and enriching kits

Kids construct projects they can use. We have the pencil sharpener sitting out by our homework area. My son still plays with his spin art kit.

KiwiCo kits
Spin Art uses the box it came in for easy storage.

Different categories and ages

Depending on your child’s age and interest, Kiwi has different options. 

Convenience and zero stress

There are many people who enjoy pursuing Pinterest for ideas. 

When my kids were younger, I enjoyed going to Michaels, JoAnn’s, and Hobby Lobby to find craft and science kits.

But with working and busy lives, I don’t have time to do this. Plus, there isn’t a sense of urgency to do these projects. However, when they arrive in the mail each month, there is a bit of excitement that makes my kids more interested in it.

I am no longer wasting money and filling up closets and drawers with art supplies and ideas for rainy days.

Comes with everything you need

In addition to coming with all the materials you need, appealing directions and Design Booklets, it comes with that great box to store everything in, and it comes with a notebook. 

Some of the projects haven’t fit back into the boxes. However, some are part of the box as in the Spin Art machine which uses the box as part of the design. A double win!

Helps refine fine motor skills

Kids need patience and to take care as they handle wires and small parts. It’s great to build and refine fine motor skills.

KiwiCo crates build fine motor skills
Builds fine motor skills

You can cancel at any time

If you know how to log onto your KiwiCo account, you can cancel the subscription or change kits or pause your subscription. It’s easy.

I also very much appreciated getting an email reminder that our 3-month subscriptions were coming due to auto-renew. More on this below.

Experience with Kiwi Co customer service

My kids opened their kits four days after Christmas. My older son was excited to do the pencil sharpener in his Eureka Crate. In putting it together, one of the wires broke apart.

It was a Saturday, but I emailed them right away over what I assume was a very busy customer service time for them. 

I included our order number, an explanation of the problem, and also included a picture.

In almost exactly 25 hours, on Sunday, a rep wrote back to say they will send out a replacement part right away. They shipped it out Monday, and we received a replacement piece early afternoon on Wednesday. 

We haven’t had any other issues.

Automatically renewing Kiwi Co. subscription

We’ve all had times where we agreed to pay for something one time but then see recurring charges on our credit card statements.

This was a concern I had before purchasing KiwiCo.

Would they continue to charge my account?

Not only did I get a confirmation from KiwiCo that my account was scheduled to renew, when I went online, I had options to easily cancel, to change the kits we wanted, or to put the account on hold.

I let them auto-renew. When I later learned I paid full price, I emailed Kiwi to tell them I saw a code for a discount. They credited my credit card for the difference for both kits. 

I’m a huge believer in rewarding loyalty. So while I wish KiwiCo would have given me a discount up front as one of their loyal, existing customers, I was happy it was easy for them to honor the sale price when I wrote them.

So the only complaint would be they should have an automatic discount for their ongoing, loyal customers instead of focusing only on the getting new customers.

Happy with KiwiCo Eureka Crate and Tinker Crate

While my kids love doing these crates, I love they are learning as they put the kits together. I love seeing how proud they are that they made whatever it is and that it works!

Most of all, in this day of electronics, I’m thrilled to have found something that my kids are interested in.

They are actively engaged in building their kits. All the while, they are learning and having fun.

So to answer the question, 

Is KiwiCo worth the money?

We absolutely say Yes! For as long as my older children continue to look forward to their crates and want to build the kits, we will keep subscribing. It’s a unique gift for tweens and teens.

I appreciate I don’t have to research online for these types of STEM kits or look through them online and at hobby and craft stores. My kids have fun doing their crates, and in the end, they have made something they are proud of. 

Please note, this is an honest KiwiCo review. We did not receive anything from KiwiCo and chose to write this Kiwi crate review after buying the kits and enjoying them so much. There are affiliate links in this post.